Today, the name Godiva evokes two things: fine chocolates, and a gorgeous blonde nude astride a horse. But in her own time Godgifu was best known as the wife of the earl of Mercia and as the generous benefactor of religious houses in Coventry and Lincolnshire. This episode will take you through what we know about this woman and will hint at the origins and growth of her legend through the middle ages and beyond.
Ambitious, resilient, and internationally famous, Anna May Wong was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1930s. She had her first starring role in Hollywood before she was 20. She had also left Hollywood twice by the time she was 30, frustrated by the racism she faced as a Chinese-American woman. Throughout her career, she had to fight racism and censorship rules to get leading roles. But she also made international headlines for her performances on stage and screen. Though comparatively obscure today, Anna May Wong was a celebrity and style icon in a time when the options for women’s roles were being redefined in art and life.
To know American History is to know the history of substance abuse. Whether alcohol, tobacco, or narcotics, Americans have sought the comfort of substances to ease the pains of the world and to "lubricate" life. And as long as there have been addicts in the United States, there have been others who claim to know the way out of addiction. At the end of the nineteenth century, Dr. Leslie Keeley claimed to have invented a cure to solve the addiction crisis he saw in the US. In order to deliver this cure, Keeley opened at least one treatment center in every US state. His cure? Injecting gold into the veins of patients. Chase a dragon along a gilded path on this episode of Footnoting History.
When we last left the Brothers York, Edmund was dead for several years, while Edward had become King Edward IV of England, Richard was his staunch ally, and George was imprisoned after periods of rebellion and dramatic behavior. In this episode, Christine picks up the narrative and discusses George’s fate, the end of Edward IV’s reign, the rise and fall of Richard III, and the end of the Wars of the Roses.
Richard, Duke of York, and his wife Cecily Neville had four sons (Edward, Edmund, George, and Richard) whose lives were consumed by the Wars of the Roses. In this episode Christine begins looking at their involvement in the fight for the crown and how they sometimes succeeded in winning it.
Frontispiece of Naidu's 1912 poetry collection, The Bird of Time.
Poet and activist, scholar and politician, Sarojini Naidu inhabited many roles. The daughter of privilege, she enjoyed an elite education... defied societal norms in marrying for love. Before women students could receive degrees, she studied at universities in both India and England, including at Girton College, Cambridge. A gifted poet, she was known as the "Nightingale of India," and wrote about topics including her own experience of chronic illness. She was involved in activism and politics, supporting women's suffrage in England, and working internationally for the cause of Indian independence from the 1920s onwards. This podcast examines both her extraordinary life and her distinctive literary voice.
When his father died in 1846, Levi Strauss was left with few opportunities as a Jewish youth in his native Bavaria and so he left with his mother and sisters for New York where he joined his brothers’ modest dry good business. A few years later he moved to San Francisco to run the west coast branch of the family firm. Levi went on to build up a successful business and to become a well-respected, millionaire philanthropist while popularizing a new form of clothing: blue jeans.
Ever wondered about the origins of Valentine’s Day and whether it was purely the invention of the greeting card industry? Join Kristin this week on Footnoting History to explore the development of our modern celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Witchcraft at Salem Village from Pioneers in the Settlement of America (1876)
Think you know how the Salem Witch Trials started? You may be surprised. Join Kristin on this week’s episode of Footnoting History to explore the origins of the 1692 trials and find out what historians know … and what we only wish we knew.
Christine's beloved Pooh bear holding a copy of the book, Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh has lived in the hearts of people of all ages since the 1920s. Here, Christine traces the life of the famous bear (and his friends) from his origins in the family of author A.A. Milne and his acquisition by the Disney Company, all the way to his current place of residence.
How did Joel Chandler Harris's stories on Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Bear, and Br'er Fox go from beloved to problematic in the mid-twentieth century? In this episode, Elizabeth traces the story of how Joel Chandler Harris's work became Song of the South.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus folktales were famous not only in the South, but throughout the United States. For much of the last century, however, they have been sharply critiqued for their presentation of antebellum plantation life. But who was Joel Chandler Harris? In this episode, Elizabeth dives into his story and the people from whom he learned these tales.
How did Ivanhoe become a wildly popular school text? And what happened to the interpretation of the text when it did? Across the Anglophone world, Scott’s medieval England became reified as a time and place of chivalric adventure, despite the novel’s often ironic tone and often pointed social criticisms. This episode examines how Sir Walter Scott’s imagined past became something very different as it was reinterpreted in popular culture, in sometimes sinister ways.
There are some things that almost any Hollywood film set in the Middle Ages can count on. It will be set in England. There will be a lot of forests. The Norman nobility will oppress the Saxon peasantry. Other things are optional but frequent. There may be a tournament or a siege. There may be a reference to the Crusades. Robin Hood may turn up. There may be a trial for witchcraft. Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe contains all of these things, and since its publication in 1819, this runaway bestseller has helped to shape Anglophone ideas of the Middle Ages.
Manfred of House Hohenstaufen is dead; Charles of Anjou, in the name of the papacy, has claimed Sicily and awaits coronation. Across the Ionian and Aegean Seas, Michael Palaeologus looks to the Latin West and waits. In Germany, Conradin, son of the last "rightful" king of Sicily, desires to seize his own claim to the throne. And the House of Aragon begins to stir and look towards Sicily with its own ambitions. This week on Footnoting History, the thrilling conclusion to our saga of the Sicilian Vespers which sees 4000 Frenchmen dead.
In the middle of the 13th Century, a violent uprising began on the island of Sicily in an attempt to oust the French King, Charles I of Anjou, that left approximately 13,000 people dead over the course of six weeks. This violent uprising also sparked a wider pan-Mediterranean war between the Spanish crown of Aragon, the Angevin Kingdom of Naples, the Byzantine Empire, and the Kingdom of France. In part one of this two-part series, Josh explores the causes of the uprising and the immediate aftermath.
Starting in the early 1600s, the Ottoman sultans switched from practicing fratricide to confinement as a means to preserve their rule from their grasping brothers. In this episode, Elizabeth examines how this treatment led a number of eventual sultans to have less than stellar qualifications and less than stellar legacies.